Press Release
November 9, 2013

Drilon to international parliamentarian: There are other things more important than becoming the party in power

The successful resolution of the pork barrel controversy, which would mean punishing and jailing the guilty of misusing government funds, will strengthen the Aquino administration's pursuit for anti-corruption and good governance reforms, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said today, addressing the 120 international parliamentarians at the 20th anniversary of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) held in the Manila Hotel.

In his speech, Drilon explained briefly the pork barrel controversy that was hounding the Philippine Congress before international liberals including prominent personalities such as Hon. Sam Rainsy, a Cambodian opposition leader; Hon. Graham Watson, a member of European Parliament; Dr. Rainer Adam, regional director for Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom; Hon. Hans van Baalen, member of European Parliament, the Neatherlands; Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya; Liberal Party Secretary-General Mel Sarmiento; and LP spokesperson Erin Tanda, among others.

"This might be a painful politically cleansing process, but we are confident that when the judicial process is completed, and the guilty is punished, the platform of good governance upon which the Aquino Administration stands, will have a stronger foundation," said Drilon.

"The Aquino government is getting intense public beating because of the alleged misuse of government resources earmarked in the national budget by some legislators to fund preferred projects and programs," he pointed out.

"The Aquino government will not spare anyone who will be proven guilty from accountability and punishment," the Senate chief stressed.

The CALD is an organization of liberal democrats in Asia that has been in the forefront in the struggle for democracy and freedom in authoritarian regimes in the Asian region. It was inaugurated in Bangkok, Thailand in 1993, with the support of then Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and South Korea's Kim Dae-Jung. CALD is the only regional alliance of liberal and democratic political parties in Asia.

Drilon shared that bad governance - the root of all economic ills - can be squarely addressed only in a democracy, because of the presence of institutions and legal environment that make governments and public officials accountable.

"Democracy is a continuing struggle. For as long as we remain steadfast in our convictions and principles, we will prevail," he underlined.

He noted that some countries in Asia suffered severe political persecution and oppression in fighting for democracy as political patronage, populism and dogmatism continue to hound otherwise stable democracies such as the Philippines, Thailand and Taiwan.

Drilon encouraged the delegates to remain optimistic. "We must not lose hope. We look forward to the day when Aung San Suu Kyi becomes the first democratically elected president of Myanmar after decades of military rule. And, we will all be there cheering and proud, when our CALD Chair, Sam Rainsy, is elected as Prime Minister of Cambodia," said Drilon.

He however reminded his fellow parliamentarians of other more important matters than becoming the party in power. "Our core liberal values, among them the protection of the rights of every individual, the rule of law, good governance --these are what defines us. In times of struggles, these are what keep us going. In times of victory, these become our moral compass," stressed Drilon.

"Political parties are the heart and soul of a democracy. We, liberals, should be at the forefront of political party reform. We must reach out to our constituents. We must remain inclusive and consultative. A political party that does not practice internal democracy, can never be expected to rule democratically," he added.

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